Our House graduates from the “Paranormal Activity Institute of Small and Effectual Scares”. Actually, if we’re rating this supernatural horror against the Paranormal Activity series, it’s on par with the first two films, and ranks higher than the franchise’s final two chapters. For what it’s worth, that’s a decent sweet spot for Anthony Scott Burns and his feature-length debut.
Working off of a blueprint in Matt Osterman’s Ghost From the Machine, Burns’ movie doesn’t reinvent the horror genre, but it rides with a pretty interesting idea of supernatural forces taking advantage of mortal vulnerability. The invisible presences find access through the grieving of three siblings, Ethan, Matt, and Becca (Thomas Mann, Percy Hynes White, and Kate Moyer). After an abrupt and deadly accident, Ethan is drops his innovative dreams to care for his younger brother and sister. Before the tragedy, Ethan was working on a contraption that would provide wireless electricity. He continues his project in secrecy, but it’s hard to disguise the machine’s draining response. When activated, the device attracts the interest of spirits – assumably Mom and Dad. But when the limits of the invention are pushed, the answers for the apparitions are not so black-and-white.
That’s not completely true. The spirits we see are, visibly, black – pitch black. Our House’s best trick are these materializing smokey figures that turn ugly when provoked. These persistently creepy moments happen, of course, during the final stretch of the movie. Up until then, the audience endures instances of reappearing objects and strange bumps in the night as the atmosphere thickens wth intensity.
Our House reminded me of Netflix’s The Open House – both are low-key thrillers working with minor scare tactics – along with other modern horror movies with a cursed, realm-crossing idol (Ouija, Oculus, Wish Upon). However, unlike The Open House and most of those other forgettable flicks, Our House finds life in its premise and, therefore, will keep you on the edge of your seat.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie